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Fifth Dutch Growth Study shows increase in overweight

The Fifth Dutch Growth Study was conducted in 2009. The results show the trends in the height and weight of children in the Netherlands (0 to 21 yrs of age). The prevalence of overweight and obesity in this group has increased. There is a stagnating trend in the average height of children of Dutch origin; it has not increased since the last study in 1997.

In Youth Health Care, growth charts are used to assess whether children are developing according to the norms for height and weight. Up-to-date growth charts enable them to identify children who deviate from those norms, and refer them in time to the appropriate health professionals. Because people in the Netherlands have been growing taller in recent years, the charts have to be amended on a regular basis. The Dutch Growth Study is conducted every 10 to 15 years, thereby ensuring that the growth charts remain up to date. Following the results of the 1997, there was an extra reason for further study; they showed that the problem of overweight and obesity in the Netherlands was increasing. The government has since been keeping track of trends in overweight in the Netherlands.

Prevalence of overweight is increasing

Researchers assessing the results of the growth study look at the differences between boys and girls. They also break down the results into categories: children of Dutch, Moroccan and Turkish origin - the three largest groups in the Netherlands. The prevalance of overweight has increased in all three groups.

Results of the Fifth Dutch Growth Study

On 10 June 2010, TNO presented the results of the Fifth Dutch Study and the new growth charts. The main findings:

  • Since 1997, the average height of children of Dutch origin has not increased. This is the first time this has happened since the introduction of the Dutch Growth Study.
  • The average height of boys of Dutch origin at 21 years of age is 183.8 centimetres, and that of Dutch girls is 170.7 centimetres.
  • The average height of children of Turkish and Moroccan origin has increased since 1997, but they are 6 to 8 centimetres shorter than children of Dutch origin.
  • Overweight and obesity have increased among children of Dutch, Turkish and Moroccan origin.
  • There is a greater tendency towards overweight among children of Turkish and Moroccan origin than among children of Dutch origin.

The main results are summarised in figures in the factsheet.

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